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US Drones and Destabilized Pakistan

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There has been a lot of hot news recently, so the John Kerry’s Pakistan visit on August 1 appeared to attract little attention. Over 2 thousand prisoners escaped in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan in just a few days (22-30 July). Many very dangerous Islamists were freed by their brothers in arms (the jails came under attacks as Al Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban reported).

On August 2 the US State Department warned US citizens against going to other countries because of global terrorist threat. 21 US missions abroad were closed. The threat is imminent till August 31, the State Department said. US lawmakers say the level of threat is as high as on 9/11. Interpol declared the global emergency on August 3. How the security threat and the Kerry’s visit to Pakistan are intertwined?

John Kerry arrived in Pakistan the day after Mamnoon Hussain was elected the new President of the country. Just a few hours before that, the jail building in Dera Ismail Khan  (located in the tribes area, in the North-West of Pakistan) was captured by Pakistani Taliban. The State Secretary came to meet Prime Minister Navaz Sharif, acting President Asif Zardari (Mamnoon Hussein was to take office on August 9) and top military leaders. There was a wide range of issues on the agenda, including the thorniest one which has deteriorated the relationship with Washington – the incessant operations of drones in Pakistan (that is exactly what makes Pakistan the leader among nations with strong anti-US sentiments)…      

In May, at the time the parliamentary election resulted in coming to power of Navaz Sharif, the Peshawar’s Supreme Court (the city is located in the North-West) handed down a verdict saying the UAVs operations were inhuman and in violation of UN Charter. The Court made the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs ask the United Nations to consider a resolution to end the drone strikes. Then in June Prime Minister Navaz Sharif called to end the UAVs activities, he said many civilians made the death toll.

There is nothing unusual in the fact that the issue affected the agenda of Islamabad held talks with Mr. Kerry. As Pakistani Foreign Ministry said on August 1, the Pakistan made known its position which saw the US drones operations in the North-West as unacceptable. Pakistan demands the US stop the flights over tribal areas. Asif Zardari said the flights damaged the bilateral relations and spurred extremist activities at the Pakistan-Afghan border.

The results of the talks are known. As Reuters reported on August 1, the US will not stop drone operations in Pakistan. Mr. Kerry said the operations will terminate when there is no threat (meaning Washington is to decide if the threats exist or not on the Pakistani soil). The Secretary added, President Obama has concrete plans about the time the flights would end, but the information was not to be disclosed.

The stance could not satisfy the Pakistani leadership and it made it known. The very next day the global terrorist threat warning came and Pakistan went through hard times.

On August 5 the highest terrorist alert was declared in Islamabad upon receiving the information about imminent Air Force headquarters attack.  The very same day, a Karachi passenger train bombing killed three men while wounding over 20.

On August 6 Defense Minister A.K. Antoni said a group of heavily – armed men, some wearing regular armed forces uniform, crossed the disputed border of Jammu and Kashmir killing five Indian border guards on patrol.  Pakistan says there were no clashes with Indian military.   Aizaz Chaudhry, spokesman for Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said there was no firing from Pakistan’s side. “Our military authorities have confirmed that there had been no exchange of fire that could have resulted in such an incident,” Mr. Chaudhry said in a statement. “These are baseless and unfounded allegations,” he said. Mr. Antony said India has lodged a protest with the Pakistani government through diplomatic channels.

We strongly condemn this unprovoked incident,” he said. Experts believe the attack was a provocation aimed to prevent the normalization of relations between the two states, which are the largest in South Asia (the incident may affect the plans of holding a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani Prime Minister Navaz Sharif at the start of September during the UN General Assembly session in New York).

On August 7 a bombing attack took place at the soccer stadium in Karachi. A bomb blast that appeared to be targeting a provincial government minister killed 11 people at a soccer field in southern Pakistan, the latest in a series of attacks that left 28 people dead across the country. The bomb went off near the vehicle of Provincial Minister Jived Angora, who was leaving after witnessing a late-night match between local teams in the Lyari neighbourhood.

India Map

The blast killed 11 people and wounded 24 others. Many of the dead and wounded were 6-15 year old boys standing near the soccer field when the bomb exploded. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Karachi is Pakistan’s largest city and has a long history of political, criminal and religious violence. There is a reason to believe the string of deadly blasts in Pakistan will not stop at that.

…After the global terrorist warning, which threatens us all on a daily basis, was declared, analysts wrote about a protracted love affair between the While House and Al Qaeda. Perhaps that is the clue to destabilization of Pakistan?

Source: Strategic Culture

Author: Dmitriy Sedov

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